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Skepsi  2010 

Georges Bataille’s ‘Ethics of Violence’

Keywords: Bataille , violence , ethics , morality , hypermorality , heterogeneous , anguish

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Abstract:

This article focuses on Georges Bataille’s understanding of violence. Bataille’s position and reaction to fascism and Nazi violence in particular have been questioned, and his political engagement has been characterised as ambiguous, to say the least. The article attempts to throw some light on the thinking of a philosopher whose equal attraction to violence, horror, anguish and death on the one hand and to love and life on the other may easily permit a misreading of his objects. How can Bataille, imbued within the Nietzschean tradition of beyond good and evil, at one and the same time call for a hypermorality of ‘holding nothing back!’, make sense of Auschwitz as something humanly possible, and resist any direct accusations of being a Nazi politics supporter? The article first contextualises Bataille’s ‘ethics of violence’ within his discussion of the heterogeneous and the science of heterology; then explains the nature of his fascination with violence and horror; and finally considers Bataille’s reaction to these reproaches. It offers a reading of discussion can be read in terms of a revolving around and the attempt to answer the question: what is one to make of or to do with violence according to Bataille, and why? Is one to deny it as one does an enemy and a threat, come to terms with it as something inevitable or go after it as something necessary? But can these options be easily distinguished, if one sees violence, indeed, as a pharmakon?

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